Friday, February 26, 2016

We Are Not Traveling Alone

I'm on the road today, but it's a little different than usual: I'm traveling alone, for one thing.
Normally, my husband and I are driving or flying off somewhere together, most often to visit with our kids and grandkids.  But today I'm going solo, heading across the Atlantic--and my better half is not going to be the pilot up front, which makes the experience a first for me.  [Bites fingernails nervously.]  Unfortunately, he'll have to travel to other destinations in the days/weeks to come.  (Work can really get in the way, sometimes, can't it?)

I was privileged to go along on some working trips with my favorite captain--to Nice, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, and twice to San Juan--back when we first became almost-but-not-quite empty-nesters (our youngest son was still in college during those jet-setting days, so he was back home with us during his breaks).  I haven't accompanied my guy on any trips to exotic locales for the past few years, however, as our brood of grandbabies has been growing exponentially and going to see them beats anything Europe has to offer.  (By a mile, truly!)

So why the trip, you ask?  Well, I've been having a rather difficult time lately dealing with the fact that my baby--who really did leave the nest in earnest, when he graduated from college in May of 2015 and shortly afterward reported to military training--will call Germany home for the next few years.  I know it's easier to stay connected despite long distances in this modern era of technological wonders like Skype and FaceTime; but the bottom line is that it will be much tougher for him to spend the kind of time he's always enjoyed spending with family while he's over there.
A little over a month ago, when we were staying at our Oyster Haven house on the lake, working to get it ready for its VRBO opening, I woke up from a deep sleep one night (something that almost never happens to me; I mean, I pretty much always sleep like a rock).  I was chilled to the bone, but at first I was too tired to get up and get another blanket.  As I lay there shivering in bed, for some reason I couldn't stop thinking about my youngest son.  I knew he was out in the field at the time, and I found myself worrying about whether he was warm enough.  And over the past few weeks, I've been feeling blue at random moments.  It's as if a little gray cloud follows me sometimes, and I know it's because I miss him so much and have a bit of separation anxiety (something I've always had a problem with when it comes to my boys!) because he's so far away from us.  (No matter how big or how old they get, moms can't really ever let go of that primal urge to take care of their chickies.)  So I thought that if I just went over there and saw where he lived and what his life was like, I could finally relax a bit.
This son of ours has always looked up to his older brothers.  We had our first four in four years, and then after a five-year break, he came along.  And all he ever wanted to do was be like them.  He was in such a hurry to grow up and feel like "one of the guys."  I know he misses being able to see his brothers, whom he considers his best friends, on a regular basis now; and I don't want him to feel as if he's traveling alone.  So this former white knuckle-flyer is doing what would have been unthinkable even five years ago: I'm traveling across the ocean, alone.

By the time I board my international flight in less than two hours, I will have spent about ten hours in the Atlanta airport today.  I had to fly here early this morning, as there weren't a lot of options out of the VA city where sons #3 and 4 live. I had to break away [rip that Band-Aid off fast, Grammy!] from all the cuteness at our middle son's home, where my husband and I have been staying for about a week, offering what help we could as he and Preciosa transition to having two kids under two (make that two kids 16 months and under!).  It was tough to leave all that cuteness, I'll tell you.  Not just the wee ones, but my cute boyfriend of 42 years/husband of 35 as well. 
G-Man and his newborn baby sister, Princesa.
I don't mind long waits at the airport, though.  What can I say?--I am not easily bored!  And I was thrilled to hear this announcement over he PA system at about 11:25 a.m.: "There will be a Catholic Mass at 11:30, at the chapel located on Concourse F."  I quickly shoved all of my various gadgets, which I'd been charging up for the trip, into my carry-on bag and ran to the train that would take me from Concourse C to Concourse F.  I arrived at the small chapel late, but made it in time for the gospel--and soon afterward, about eight others joined me (including an angelic one-year-old girl holding a chunky wooden toddler Rosary).

I cannot even tell you how thrilled I was to be able to attend Mass before getting on that plane tonight!  I was tearing up throughout the service, so filled with emotion was I.  And I was a little sad that I'd been chewing gum when the announcement was made and would be unable to receive Communion.  BUT--the priest gave all of us a dispensation, since we hadn't been given enough notice to properly fast before receiving the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.  What joy!  What a wonderful experience that was for me!  As many times as I've been in this airport, I didn't even know that Masses were held there!  (I only wish I'd known I could have gone to Confession, too!)
So--to tie this post up as neatly as possible, I'm not traveling alone today, because I have a family that loves me and God is with me always, watching over me.  And I'm making this trip to remind my boy that he never has to travel alone either.  (And who knows?  The fact that I'm actually coming over all by myself, without my favorite travel buddy, indicates that he might be seeing a whole lot more of his dad and me than he ever thought he would when he was given this assignment!)

Now in closing, a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank you, God: for these five wonderful boys whose care you entrusted to my husband and me; for the many blessings you have bestowed on our family; and finally, for air travel (and giving me a husband whose job makes it affordable for us!).


  1. Travel safe and enjoy your time with Son #5. I am glad you will be able to put your mind at ease. And that G-Man smile as he holds Princesa is just melting me.

    1. Thanks, Madeline! I am writing this reply from the airplane--about four hours into my eight hour flight! I decided to splurge on a few hours of in-flight Internet! Isn't the world a magical place? When I was in the process of purchasing the wi fi service, the screen said something like, "Thank you for your patience while we send your information down to earth"! Crazy! :)

      And I agree about his smile--it melts me, too!

  2. This is a beautiful post. You are both in our prayers.